City councillors campaign against transit increase

Two city councillors are campaigning against a 20-cent transit fare increase, set to be implemented in June, in the hopes that it will be rescinded.

Harvey Smith and Ross Eadie are the organizers of the “Stop the 20-cent transit fare hike” campaign, which began Jan. 31 at the University of Winnipeg.

“We can rescind the 20 cents, we want to get the 20 cents off the table” he said.

Eadie said they have to convince three councillors that they should rescind the increase.
He said he is strongly opposed to this motion because it is not fair.

Eadie explained it is not just people who are in income assistance who are hurt by this increase but everybody riding Winnipeg transit.

“High school students are paying the highest increase and on regular transit adult fares there will be a 10 per cent increase,” he said.

He added that he had received an email from a family who cannot afford to pay the increase.

“We need to empower people. We have a petition and hope to get up to 10,000 signatures,” Eadie said.

“It is clear from our campaign that users don’t want the 20 cents on their bus fare.”
Smith and Eadie are working with a number of groups to make their protest a success, including Social Planning Council, The U of W Students’ Union, the Rapid Transit Coalition and Women’s Council of Winnipeg.

A pamphlet and a poster campaign are being run to tell people who take the bus to call the mayor and city councillors to let them know they are not pleased with the increase.

The two councillors also plan to introduce a motion to get rid of the increase.

Winnipeggers saw the bus fare increase to $2.45 in January of this year and they might have to pay $2.65 a ride starting June 1.

The motion for the increase was tabled by St. Norbert councillor Justin Swandel and approved eight to six by city council on Nov. 16.

The 20-cent increase is meant to help pay for the southwest rapid transit corridor. The project has an estimated cost of $300 million.

Claire Jacquet, a third year student in the Asper School of Business, said she didn’t know that the bus fare could increase by 20 cents on June 1.

“I feel this is really not fair and more particularly for students like me,” she said.
“For people who take the bus it is a huge increase,” she added.

Jacquet said she thinks some students cannot afford to pay the extra increase and some will not take the bus anymore to protest.

Marie Pierre, a fourth year student in the faculty of kinesiology and recreation management, said this increase could have been justified if Winnipeg Transit was more efficient.

But she said she would continue to take the bus even if the fare increases by 20 cents.

The motion to get rid of the increase will likely be discussed at the city’s public work committee meeting on Feb. 28.